Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.
The Wolves are starting Ronny Turiaf, Thad Young, Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea tonight against an injury-depleted Oklahoma City team in Tulsa.
Where'd that lineup come from?
Answer: From practice yesterday.
That was the team out of three split up for practice that won the most scrimmages at BOK Center Saturday afternoon, so that's who's starting.
Coach Flip Saunders said he'll experiment with different lineups tonight, "depending on how things go"
Martin will play for the first time this preseason now that he's deemed recovered from that groin injury, but Shabazz Muhammad won't play tonight after he returned yesterday for his first hard practice back from that heel injury.
Wolves forward Shabazz Muhammad wore a protective boot on his sore heel, a precautionary measure for the next couple days that Flip Saunders said doctors ordered to calm tendinitis.
He's not expected to do much, if anything at all, at practice until at least Thursday, Saunders said.
That makes him unlikely to play Friday against Milwaukee in Cedar Rapids, Ia.
Meanwhile, Kevin Martin did more today with that healing groin injury. He did some live action and will do more as the week goes on.
Saunders said it's possible he'll play this weekend, which could mean Sunday's game against Oklahoma City in Tulsa at the latest.
Saunders and the Wolves are being cautious because their No. 1 objective is to get through this preseason without a major injury, unlike Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant and Washington with Bradley Beal.
He's measuring practice and playing time for the Wolves players who participated in last month's FIBA World Cup in Spain: J.J. Barea didn't play Friday against Philadelphia and he basically gave Ricky Rubio and Gorgui Dieng off from practice on Saturday.
Also, Anthony Bennett said he went to the eye doctor yesterday and has been cleared to play without those goggles to protect his eyes after Lasik surgery. Although he said he played pretty well with them, so he joked he reserves the right to go back to them if need be.
One other thing before I go: The NBA announced today it will experiment this weekend with a shortened 44-minute game between Brooklyn and Boston.
I polled Flip and some Wolves players on it -- reserve guard Mo Williams didn't like the idea one bit, would rather they play 52 minutes so the reserves get more PT -- and will write about that for Wednesday's paper and the web site.
Wolves veteran forward Corey Brewer got whacked in the mouth during today's practice and chipped two teeth that will require a trip back to the Twin Cities from Mankato to have them fixed.
"That's a major injury for him because of the way he smiles, that takes away all the laughing and smiling," coach Flip Saunders said.
Brewer is expected back in time for Saturday's practice, the team's second-to-last session in Mankato for camp.
Not sure if that means he'll be back in time for tonight's annual lasagna feed at owner Glen Taylor's Mankato home.
He was injured during a collision with Thad Young for a loose ball.
Brewer stopped practice early on the same day Nikola Pekovic and Glenn Robinson III returned to work after they sat out Thursday.
Pekovic didn't practice Thursday, a precautionary measure Flip Saunders said he'll use occasionally this season to try diminish the wear-and-tear on Pek's ankles and feet.
Robinson mildly sprained an ankle in Wednesday night's scrimmage, but appeared to be running fine today.
The Timberwolves today made it official, with training camp now just five days away: They have hired L.A.-based Mike Penberthy as a shooting coach to work with a team, particularly Ricky Rubio, who has struggled in that area in recent years.
A former Laker who played 56 NBA games more than a decade, Penberthy worked with Rubio, Chase Budinger and others over the summer. He will move back and forth from his Los Angeles-area home to work with players.
"I don't even want to pigeon-hole him as a shooting coach because i think there are other things he'll be able to help us with," Wolves coach/president Flip Saunders said. "That will be his main emphasis. Ricky enjoyed working with him, even though it was only for a week. I think if Ricky had a chance to spend a month with him or six weeks, I believe we could have seen some good changes. We'll let his role evolve. It's important for him to see how we want to play and where guys are going to get shots and how he can incorporate that into our shooting."
The Wolves also hired former Detroit director of basketball operations Jason Hervey -- no, not the Wonder Years kid -- as a scout who will work both colleges and NBA personnel.
They also announced they are promoting scout Derek Pierce from general scout to advance scout.
The Wolves will open training camp in Mankato with a midnight-madness event that will be carried live on NBA TV.
Their "Dunks After Dark" extravaganza will be held late Monday night, September 29 in Mankato after the team conducts its traditional media-day activities at Target Center that afternoon.
Doors at Minnesota-State Mankato's Bresnan Arena open at 11 p.m. and the program that will feature a scrimmage and a dunk contest between Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine begins right after midnight.
Tickets are free, but you need one and they'll be available at the school's Student Union Center that Monday morning starting at 10:30 a.m.
The Wolves also are expected to announce soon plans for a Sunday afternoon scrimmage that will end camp on Oct. 5.
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